The Minnesota Vikings, less than a week away from the start of free agency, have shown they have intentions of playing the market this offseason.
Minnesota released veteran left tackle Riley Reiff, kicker Dan Bailey and restructured punter Britton Colquitt’s contact this week in a series of moves that lifted the Vikings out of a financial hole. The Vikings are roughly $10 million under the salary cap and may not be done cutting costs from the books in 2021.
General manager Rick Spielman revealed that more contract restructures could come with a week before many roster guarantees are sealed on March 19.
“We’ll look at some restructures, and we don’t want to lose too many guys, but you’ve got to be careful,” Spielman said on KFAN Friday. “I don’t know where the potential salary cap is going to be next year.”
A prime candidate whose contact could be on the chopping block is four-time Pro Bowl linebacker Anthony Barr, who underwent season-ending surgery on a torn pectoral muscle he suffered in Week 2 last season.
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Salary-Cap Analyst Strikes Down Barr’s Worth
Reports surfaced that Barr is unwilling to restructure his contract approaching the 2021 season where he carries a $15 million cap hit that makes him the second highest-paid linebacker in the league this season.
Barr’s contributions to the defense go beyond the stat sheet. He can play in coverage and is a matchup nightmare as a pass-rusher. However, his statistical decline cannot be ignored — Barr has logged more than 1.5 sacks in a season once since 2016. After making four consecutive Pro Bowls from 2015 to 2018, Barr has missed the past two Pro Bowls (although last year’s absence was due to injury).
If the 29-year-old cannot return to his former self soon, his contract could be an anchor to the rest of the team.
Pioneer Press reporter Chris Tomasson spoke with salary-cap analyst Jason Fitzgerald, who was skeptical of Barr’s value.
“He’s damaged goods right now,” Fitzgerald said. “I wouldn’t keep him at that number.”
In a press conference last week, Spielman addressed Barr’s value to the team and made it seem that the veteran linebacker is safe, barring Minnesota cannot find a better alternative in trading or releasing him.
“Anthony is a critical piece — I know Coach Zim has spoken about it — of our defense. Just him on the field creates some offensives coaches, they have to scheme for him… But it’s all going to depend on how the pieces are going to fit in place,” Spielman said.
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Barr’s Prospects in Free Agency Leave Little to Be Desired
While Barr turned down a larger contract at the 11th hour with the New York Jets two seasons ago, he is not the same player that could command a top-tier salary.
Fitzgerald estimated that if Barr were released and entered free agency, he could only warrant half of the $12.9 million salary he is due this season, per Tomasson.
The abundance of talent hitting free agency this offseason with teams operating with less cap space likely leaves Barr with little leverage.
If Barr remains resolute in not taking a pay cut, it may come down to whether Minnesota would be willing to cut Barr, the first draft pick of Mike Zimmer’s tenure with the Vikings.
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